Song For Alpha
Though he certainly emerged as a dance-electronic artist, Daniel Avery quickly made it pretty clear he wanted to push the boundaries for experimentation in the genre. On his latest record, Avery explores different facets of how the genre can mutate and change, while offering up textures that are truly rare in any genre. This album really hits a great middle ground for dance and experimental music, but its pacing will definitely require an appreciation for both genres.
As “First Light” leads the album in on a thematic swell of synths, the air wisps around through the ethereal tones it presents. “Stereo L” however leans right into Avery’s electronics for a steady kick of bass and dance beats. Through the song’s more ambient tones Avery explores his sonic palette while offering up a delicious groove to move to. The galloping rhythm of “Projector” has an immediate sense of movement that give its swaying synths a kind of bounce. In its very pointed percussive tones, Avery suggests a hostile and desolate place that these songs are set in.
Thought it moves around a little more, “TBW17” carries many of the same interlude tones of “First Light” and does feel a little disjointed considering Avery never cross-fades these interludes together. “Sensation” hits with a much more aggressive drive that finds Avery creating a club, dance track that explores its sonic range by filtering its own beats. As the wave of noisy synths crashes in over top of it, there’s also a growing sense of tension and euphoria arriving together. The calm and more explorative sound of “Citizen _ Nowhere” makes each pounding drum feel all the louder. It’s how Avery slowly ramps this up in his cutting shrieks of feedback however that keep the song moving.
“Clear” runs with a rush of beat and heavy bass that feels like its smothering the listener in an attempt to entrance them first and hit them with melody second. This crushing energy immerses you in the track immediately and gives it a uniquely tense energy. “Diminuendo” carries a more organic and growing energy that only seems to grow more menacing and sinister as the song goes on. Part “Yeah (Crass Version” and part sci-fi score, this track really shows a unique feeling for Avery. There’s an unnerving quality to the bell runs of “Days From Now” as they almost seem to disintegrate the second they start ringing. Though it carries a much more score-like quality than other tracks here, it is one of the more evocative pieces on the album.
By “Embers” Avery is really driving different feelings through his interlude tracks but it’s never enough unfortunately to escape their samey feeling. “Slow Fade” hits out with its intoxicating bass and a echoing beat that is truly to die for. The washes of melody and an overall sense of place on this song really take it above and beyond a lot of the listening experience throughout the record.
“Endnote” though a comically short interlude, finally connects as a fade into “Quick Eternity,” which does raise the question of why it wasn’t just consolidated into it. The latter song’s rustic beats are a welcome step on the album and breathe in a sort of bright energy into an otherwise dark and broody record. Though it definitely takes its time to get there, the smothering energy of the final rushes of noise really close out the record with an ominous swath of energy.
Words by Owen Maxwell